Friday, July 3, 2009

The Kindness of Customers

Back in early May I was contacted by a fellow who asked if I could take on an important project. He needed me to work on an expensive piece of musical technology which had received some damage when being shipped to him. I agreed, and assured him that I'd be able to deliver the repaired device to him in a reasonable amount of time. But when my ankle failed, I was unable to personally attend to his job, and I didn't feel confident that my new technician, hired last year, could be reasonably expected to do the work on this complicated piece unattended, and I wanted to be able to personally inspect it before it shipped.

I wrote back to the customer and explained the situation with my leg, and told him I hoped to be able to finish up the project in just a few weeks. He said that he understood, and was willing to wait until I was recovered. I gave him the address to this blog so he could see how things were going with me.

Well, the few weeks have turned into about three months now, and this customer's project (as well as that of another customer in Japan) has been on hold the whole time -- and I've been worrying about them, knowing that sooner or later one or both of these fellows would run out of patience.

I was thinking that I would start feeling better before that happened.

And I have started feeling better: the antibiotic and anti-yeast meds seem to be getting the infection under control, and my pain level is dropping.

So last Friday morning, in a fit of optimism, I asked my staff to make the shop wheelchair-ready (read: move stuff around) and to get these two big projects set up for inspection.

The boss was making his first visit since the middle of May.

Just a couple hours later, the customer happened to email me. When I saw his email address I assumed that he was going to upbraid me for taking so long, that I'd have to convince him that I wasn't dragging my heels or being irresponsible.

I often expect the worst, and it's nice when I'm wrong. Here's what he wrote:
I’ve been following your blog and find your commentary interestingly quirky, and very readable. And you do have a penchant for making light of a serious situation. But man, am I empathizing with your predicament!

The yin and yang comments about your yeast infection and the beer brewing fermentation process were quite amusing. The ability to maintain a sense of humor while undergoing less than pleasant conditions, is quite a nice attribute.

Speaking of admirable attributes, although one’s take on Ronald Reagan as a President may be either negative or positive, his humor under adversity was admirable. After the assassination attempt, his quip to the emergency room docs about “hoping they were all Republicans” was memorable, as was his statement to Nancy about forgetting to duck.

To paraphrase Mr. Thoreau, the human condition is one of quiet desperation isn’t it, and as you and I have found, it’s helpful to maintain a sense of humor!

I’m assuming that mending and perhaps back-seat supervising the house overhaul is taking up most of your waking hours. And [your professional] work is either too tedious, fatiguing, or simply just too difficult to get to and move around etc. So, I won’t pester you about my [instrument].

I just wanted to say that the blog has provided much appreciated knowledge of your circumstances and has made my wait [...] more than understandable. I just hope the infectious critters are halted in their tracks and healing progresses as is expected. It sounds like you’re getting excellent treatment; but more importantly you realize that you’re in charge of making sure that is the case.

Before I end, I must let you know that I’m happy you weren’t physically capable of attempting to scrutinize my component's condition early on in your recovery. Your description of the “pain pump” and your meds made me realize that they must have been extraordinarily potent and by the same token, you must have been extraordinarily loopy [That's an understatement -- Jack]. Under that condition, poking around the guts of a piece like [my instrument] would have been more than contraindicated . So, I appreciate you not poking around until your both physically and mentally ready to do so. I know being older and ostensibly wiser, I now refrain from doing critical, precise, thinking or mechanical manipulations until I’m well rested and of a mind to do so. It’s comforting knowing that you seemingly do likewise.

Under the circumstances, I hope your July 4th. weekend is enjoyable, and you get better soon….
Cheers (and I hope you can say this with a mug of brew in your hands sooner rather than later).

It's pretty nice when you have customers as understanding as I do.

I completed the inspection of his instrument Friday morning, and authorized my employee to ready it for shipping. The UPS man came too early for it to make the big brown truck, but unless we have a crisis, it will ship on Monday, as will the other project going to Japan.

As usual, my fingers are crossed that the instruments make it to their destinations without incurring any shipping damage. Generally speaking, the more expensive the item or the farther it has to travel, the greater the chances that it will suffer some sort of indignity en route.

But as I said, I often expect the worst.

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